Coinciding with the opening day of the legal action against the South African government in Pretoria – bought by GalxoSmithKline and 41 other pharmaceutical companies – British protesters will picket the GSK plant in west London today, 5 March 2001, from 8-10am.
GSK is the world’s largest drug corporation. It is leading the fight to enforce patent rights and price fixing for anti-HIV drugs, by preventing the South African government from importing cheap generic versions and making them available to people with Aids.
“The outcome of this court case will affect 32 million HIV sufferers in poorer countries, who cannot afford these exorbitant-priced drug therapies”, according to Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!, which is backing Monday’s protest.
“GSK says that under its Accelerated Access scheme it has cut the price of HIV drugs by 85 per cent. But this scheme applies only to Africa and even the reduced price of $1500 a year is too expensive for most people in Third World countries”.
“A victory for GSK and the other pharmaceutical giants will make cheap anti-HIV drugs illegal and condemn millions of people to a painful, slow death”, says Tatchell.
“GlaxoSmithKline’s multi-billion pound profits are obscene. The argument that they need these mega profits to fund research is false. GSK made a profit of $7.6 billion in 1999, but invested only $3.75 billion in research that year. Meanwhile, 2.5 million people in the developing world die needlessly of Aids every year”.